Category Archives: Bible Study


For the miracles they commanded, the history of Elijah and Elisha is like no other in the Bible, except for New Testament times, when miracles were given to confirm the word of the apostles and other inspired men. The miracles performed for Moses and Joshua were also impressive, but were in many ways detached from the persons, themselves. The crossing of the Jordan by Elijah and Elisha was, no doubt, to remind us that these men were possessed of divine authority, as well. Many of their other miracles also pointed to the power of the coming Christ.

While in a cave in Horeb, Elijah was commanded by God to anoint one Elisha, the son of Shaphat, to take upon him the mantle of prophet in Elijah’s stead (I Kings 19:19). This is the first we hear of Elisha in the Bible. We do not know if Elijah had known Elisha before this command or not but it is nearly certain that Elisha, along with most others of the northern kingdom, knew of Elijah, for he understands the meaning and seriousness of being called by this great prophet.

Elijah then travels some 150 miles from Horeb to Abelmeholah to find Elisha, the man that God would have replace him, plowing a field with twelve yoke of oxen (I Kings 19:19). Many commentators have remarked that this shows that Elisha must have been a man of wealth to have at least twelve yoke of oxen, and to be able to have that many hired servants to work them. Others have said that this does not necessarily indicate wealth, for often those in the east work together. However, the Text tells us that Elisha “left the oxen,” showing that those mentioned were the ones he left (I Kings 19:20). Furthermore, he was able to take a yoke of oxen and kill them for a feast for the people. That would have been an expensive proposition for a poor man. It must have been equally expensive for him to walk away from it all to follow his God.

And while there is no indication that Elisha had been previously enrolled in any school of the prophets, the Lord chose him undoubtedly because he possessed the qualities needed to fulfill God’s purposes. Elijah had been a man who lived away from civilization, comfortable in caves and deserts, and only made his appearance when there was need to confront the sinner. Kings trembled at his strong and fearless revelations from God. But Elisha was a man with culture who embraced the city. He had a home and previously, at least, had a business. He seems to have had influence with the king and captain of the host (II Kings 4:13).

Despite their external differences, Elisha seems to have had a very close relationship with the prophet Elijah subsequent to his calling by the latter. Before following Elijah, Elisha only bade farewell to his family and friends with a great feast, but then left to follow Elijah, just as the apostles would later forsake all and follow Christ (Matt. 10:28). Commentators have suggested that the casting of the mantle by Elijah on Elisha’s shoulders, not only identified him as Elijah’s successor, but also identified him as his adopted son, a view somewhat supported by Elisha’s own words at Elijah’s translation (II Kings 2:12). When we leave all and follow Him, we, too, are adopted into the family of God (Gal. 4:1-8).

Not much is mentioned of their time together. We know that Elisha “ministered” unto Elijah (I Kings 19:21). The sons of the prophets refer to Elijah as Elisha’s “master” (II Kings 2:3). The servants of the king of Judah knew Elisha as the man which “poured water on the hands of Elijah” (II Kings 3:11). When it was known that Elijah would be leaving, Elisha personally vowed to stay with Elijah till the end. “As thy soul liveth,” he said, “I will not leave thee” (II Kings 2:2).

Before Elijah was taken up, he asked Elisha if there was anything he could do for him (II Kings 2:9). Elisha’s request was a hard one: “Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me” (II Kings 2:9). Elijah could not guarantee that request would be granted for only God could do it, but Elijah promised that if God was going to grant it, he would know it for he would see him taken away (II Kings 2:10). The request for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah was not a selfish request at all but a recognition of the greatness of Elijah. Elisha felt he would need a double portion in order to measure up to the work set before him.

The Inspired Record provides more accounts of the miracles of Elisha than of Elijah. Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. By most accounts, the Bible records eight miracles for Elijah and sixteen for Elisha. Though all of them are important, only one miracle of Elisha is mentioned in the New Testament and that by our Lord (Luke 4:27). It was a reference to the cleansing of Naaman by washing in the Jordan. That washing typified the washing of regeneration under the New Covenant, namely baptism (Tit. 3:5; Rom. 6:4).

Eric L. Padgett


He was the youngest boy in his family, this young shepherd from Bethlehem (I Sam.16:11). As a shepherd keeping his father’s flocks, living out in the sun and under the stars, he experienced the fullness and wonders of nature. He loved to compose poetry and sing music and many times his works spoke of the world he experienced (e.g., Psalm 29, 19, 8). He was brave. He fought with a lion and a bear to protect his father’s flocks because he was passionate about whatever he did (I Sam. 17:34-36). He had the blessing (or maybe the curse) of being a good looking young lad (I Sam. 16:12,18) and he easily made friends with all whom he came in contact.

When Samuel first met him, he was not physically the man he would later become, but his heart was already far advanced of his body. When the Lord had sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint the new king, he thought he had found him when he saw Eliab, David’s oldest brother. He said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him” (I Sam. 16:6). He judged Eliab’s physical stature to be the measure of a good king. But God told him not to look on his countenance, nor the height of his stature, nor his outward appearance, for the Lord looked on his heart (I Sam. 16:7). God chose David to be king because he was “a man after His own heart” (I Sam. 13:14).

Even as a youth David had an unusual zeal for the things of God. His three oldest brothers, Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah had followed king Saul to battle (perhaps because they were conscripted – I Sam. 14:52). When David was charged by his father to take provisions to their captain, he heard Goliath of Gath defy the armies of the Living God and challenge one of them to a battle to the death to determine the fate of the rest. David instantly said to those that would listen, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (I Sam. 17:26)! All other men, including king Saul, who literally stood head and shoulders above the rest in Israel, fled when they heard the Gittite and were afraid (I Sam. 17:11). But not David!

When the news of David’s comments made it’s way to the tent of King Saul, he had to see him. He quickly brought this young man, who had earlier played the harp to soothe Saul’s fragile nerves, in to his tent to examine him (I Sam. 16:22,23). David boldly told him, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine” (I Sam. 17:32)! To his brothers, this might have been boasting from a naughty heart, but in reality it was genuine courage from a heart of faith. To Saul, the great warrior, it might have been an outrageous claim and even a little insulting. But it was sincere and true. David believed that God would make Goliath just like the lion and the bear–dead (I Sam. 17:37). And He did.

David tried the armor which Saul offered him but it was no use. David said he could not wear them because he had not proved them. Saul was a full grown man who stood head and shoulders above every other man in Israel. David was not yet grown into the man he would become. Had the situation not been so grave, it must have been rather amusing to see David place a helmet on his head that was too large or try to walk in greaves that hindered his efforts. Saul’s armor was no good to David and against a spear the size of weaver’s beam with a head that weighed 600 shekels of iron it would have proved ineffective anyway. David already had a greater shield than that of Saul (e.g., Psalm 3:3; 5:12; 28:7; 33:20; 144:2). David, on his part, chose a staff, a sling and five smooth stones with which to defeat Goliath, but one stone was enough (I Sam. 17:40).

When the Philistine giant of Gath saw young David approach, he was offended. Did the Israelites consider him a dog, he asked, that could be beaten with a staff? He cursed David in the name of his false gods and promised to feed David’s flesh to the beasts and the fowls. This huge, hulk of a man arose and began to slowly approach David. But “David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine” and took out his sling and a stone and, with the precision matching that of any Benjamite sling, sunk the stone in the giant’s forehead (I Sam. 17:49). When the Philistines saw that their champion had expired, they took to flight, David leading the pursuit.

The women of Israel, overjoyed at their deliverance from the oppression of the Philistines, began to praise David. “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands,” they sang, to the great displeasure of King Saul. It was from that point on that Saul began to eye David and seek ways to rid himself of this perceived enemy (I Sam. 18:8,9). But the Lord was with David and caused him to prosper (I Sam. 18:12). David was made king over Judah and ruled from Hebron when he was thirty years old for seven years and six months (II Sam. 2:1-7; 5:4), and then made king over all Israel over which he ruled till he was seventy years old (I Kings 2:11; I Chron. 29:27).

Though David was a man after God’s own heart, he was not perfect. Three great transgressions mar his great example. First, there was the sin with Bathsheba. David liked women, just as his son by Bathsheba would as well. But David gave in to unlawful desires and it began a downward spiral in his life. Second, David sinned in numbering the people. David apparently did not trust God enough at this time. And finally, what could be David’s greatest failure was his lack of parental guidance. Amnon attacked his sister Tamar, Absalom killed his brother Amnon and attempted a coup, ousting David and going in to his concubines, and Adonijah attempts to take over from David. David never once displeased Adonijah, and he may well have treated his other children similarly (I Kings 1:6). David’s family was fraught with all manner of problems.

The great glory of David, however, rests not in any great deeds but in his relationship to the Messiah. The Christ was the seed of David (Rom. 1:1-4). God had told David that when he slept with his fathers in the grave that God was going to raise up his seed after him and His throne would be everlasting, as would His kingdom (II Sam. 7:12,13). David’s psalms describe the glorious resurrection of the Christ and the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom (Psalm 1; 16). All of these prophecies ultimately find their fulfillment in Acts 2 and the establishment of the church of Christ, the tabernacle of David (Acts 15:16).

Eric L. Padgett


There is, perhaps, no better way to begin to describe Saul, son of Kish, except in the words of David upon Saul’s death: “How are the mighty fallen!” (II Sam. 1:19). Saul had great promise as a leader of God’s people. He was the first king of the new, Jewish monarchy, chosen by the Lord Himself (I Sam. 9:16). David often described him as “the Lord’s anointed” (e.g., I Sam. 24:10 26:9, 11, 16), as did Samuel (I Sam. 10:1). Physically, he was an impressive man, literally standing head and shoulders above every other man in Israel (I sam. 9:2). Though Saul downplayed it to Samuel (9:21), he was the son of a mighty man of power (9:1).

In the beginning, he was reluctant to become king, even to the point of “hiding among the stuff” (I Sam. 10:22). However, a short time after he was anointed king, he moved with great purpose and rallied the children of Israel and defeated the Ammonites so badly that there was not two of them left together (I Sam. 11:11). Saul had had his detractors. When he was first anointed king, some had spoken despairingly of him and did not honor him with presents (10:27). But now, after his impressive leadership against the Ammonites, all Israel came to Gilgal and renewed the kingdom there (11:14). While the people wanted to kill Saul’s detractors, he compassionately spared their lives and focused instead on the fact that this was the Lord’s victory (11:13).

But this humility and trust in God soon gave way to pride and trust in his own sword. The first crack in his character showed when Samuel was just a little late for an appointment with Saul in Gilgal, and the Philistines were gathered en masse and poised to attack at Michmash (13:4,5,8) and Israel was seemingly losing their trust in Saul and fleeing to the mountains, caves and pits (13:6). Saul became weary in waiting and proceeded to superficially present offerings to God (13:9). No sooner was this done that Samuel appeared and reproved Saul for his presumptuous actions (13:11). In what was to be the first in a series of character trait flaws, Saul blamed others and never took responsibility himself. Saul blamed his actions on Samuel being late and said “I forced myself” to act (13:11,12).

Even though Saul reigned for forty years, and this event was early during that period, yet it signaled the beginning of a downward spiral in Saul’s life that eventually ended in his death. Samuel told Saul, “Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord” (13:13). Had Saul had kept God’s commandments, God would have established his kingdom upon Israel forever, but now his kingdom would not continue. God’s promises of blessings are always conditional upon obedience.

Saul committed yet another foolish act during the battle with the Philistines when he commanded his men not to eat any food till the evening, until he had been avenged of his enemies (14:24). This oath had repercussions that affected even his own son. First, it greatly distressed the men of Israel for they were faint from lack of sustenance (14:31). It further hurt God’s people because when the battle was concluded, they took of the spoil and ate the flesh with the blood, they were so famished (14:32). Finally, because Jonathan, his son, had not heard this command, he naturally took of some honey that he found on the ground while fighting and it gave him energy to continue. However, Saul wanted to slay his own son for breaking an oath for which he had no knowledge and which, to begin with, was unwise (14:44). It was only through the intervention of the people that Jonathan was saved (14:45)

Saul continued his downward spiral when, after being given a charge by God to utterly destroy the Amalekites, he spared “the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them” (15:9). When confronted by Samuel about this, he returned to his favorite weapon–blame someone else. Saul said it was the people who took the spoil to save it to sacrifice to God (15:20,21). Obviously, as king, Saul had a hand in this, as well (15:9). Samuel informed Saul that the LORD does not have as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, “as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (15:22,23). God was going to strip the kingdom from him and give it to a man after God’s own heart.

Samuel gives the key to understanding the change that occurred in Saul. Samuel said that initially Saul was little in his own sight (15:17). At the first, Saul was humble and obedient to the Lord. He hid from the spotlight leadership. He downplayed his own beginnings (9:21).  He was magnanimous to those who despised him (10:27). He did not feel compelled to boast about his being chosen as king to his uncle (10:16). After he was chosen and anointed and the people cheered, he went back home (10:26). He was even filled with the power of the Spirit of God and prophesied (10:10). But with a little power, Saul began to think more highly of himself than he ought. He began conscripting people to be warriors and he began disregarding God’s commands.

By the time David is introduced into the narrative, Saul is well on his way to madness. When the women begin praising David more than Saul, it is too much for him to bear and he spends the rest of his life trying to destroy David and regain his legacy, if not for himself, for his son Jonathan. His attempts at destroying David are continually thwarted by his daughter, by his son, by the priests and especially by God. God had great plans for Saul but Saul’s lust for power grew out of control and ultimately ended in his shameful demise (I Sam. 31:8-10). How are the mighty fallen!

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (I Corinthians 10:12).

Eric L. Padgett


Ruth lived during the time of the Judges of Israel (Ruth 1:1). This was an unusually turbulent time with much war and bloodshed and ungodliness (Judges 17:6; 21:25). Yet the endearing story of Ruth stands out like an oasis of peace and calm in the midst of this desert of chaos. She stands out particularly for her great, abiding love, her strength of character and her humble virtue (Ruth 3:11). She was not a queen like Esther, nor a prophetess like Deborah, nor even a Jewess, and yet she possessed several characteristics which guarantees her place in the history of Salvation.

There were several periods of famine and want in these times, occasioned by either natural causes or by oppression (e.g., 6:1-6). Perhaps the story of Ruth falls into one of these periods when Israel had sinned and God had sent the famine as a warning (Deut. 11:13-17). In any event, it was during one of these periods when Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, fled to Moab to find food, presumably until the famine was over. While there, Naomi meets with the tragic death of her husband, followed by the untimely death of her two sons Mahlon and Chilion, who had both married Moabite women. The circumstances surrounding the marriages is unknown, but the family’s sojourn turned into a ten years’ stay (1:4).

Ruth and Naomi

The Moabites were descendants of Lot (Gen. 19:37). Since Lot was the nephew of Abraham, the Moabites were distant relatives of the Jews. Because of this connection to Lot, the Lord would not suffer Israel to distress them nor would He give their land as a possession to Israel because He had given it unto the children of Lot (Deut. 2:9). However, while they were from the same stock they were still very different. The Moabites are referred to in scripture as the people of Chemosh (Num. 21:29). The Moabites also, under Balak, attempted to curse Israel through Balaam and succeeded in causing Israel to sin at Baalpeor (Num. 25:1-3).

It seems somewhat strange, then, that Elimelech would seek refuge in the land of Moab. If the famine that hit the land was due to an enemy, perhaps they did not attack Moab and this was where the food was. Nevertheless it would appear that this Moabitess named Ruth had not only been a good wife to Mahlon (Ruth 4:10), but equally a good daughter-in-law to Naomi. Ruth, in spite of all the odds against her, was willing to accompany Naomi to her homeland, leaving her own people and culture and gods (Ruth 1:16). Back in Bethlehem, Ruth willingly worked with her hands to provide for and take care of her mother-in law Naomi and herself (Ruth 2:2,7). Her care for Naomi was known among the people for Boaz tells her that he has been made aware of all she had done for Naomi (2:11). Ruth’s love for Naomi was obvious, palpable and enduring.

Ruth and Boaz

Boaz was of the family of Elimelech and so was a kinsman to Naomi (Ruth 2:1-3). He was a successful man, described as a “mighty man of wealth” who had fields which his many servants worked (Ruth 2:1). Clarke mentions that some identify Boaz as one of the Judges of Israel, though this is never stated and is not suggested by any obvious fact. He was, however, a God fearing man for his greeting indicated his faith (Ruth 2:4) and his speech revealed a trust in Jehovah (e.g., Ruth 2:12). Not only did Boaz love the Lord, but he treated his workers fairly and with dignity. Boaz also followed the law for while he was a kinsman, he recognized that there was another kinsman nearer than he who would have first opportunity to perform the service (Ruth 3:12; Deut. 25:5-10).

Boaz noticed Ruth immediately (2:5). He was particularly kind to her, especially upon learning that she came back with Naomi, with whom he was related (2:6). He blessed her by allowing her to stay close to his workers and permitting her to gather whatever they left behind. He instructed his men to leave some behind on purpose (Ruth 2:13-18). Ruth’s seemingly unusual and forward method of approaching Boaz suggested that she recognized Boaz’s affection for her but saw that he was timid about making his own feelings known explicitly. The delicacy yet innocence of the situation permits us to surmise that the feelings each felt for the other were always just below the surface. That Boaz immediately accepted Ruth’s request further strengthens the notion that he was of a willing mind, if only the legal obstacles of another kinsman redeemer were removed (Ruth 3:11,12).

Ruth and Christ

The story of Ruth is beautiful in its own right and yet there is a deeper, more powerful purpose found therein. After Ruth and Boaz marry and conceive, Naomi’s companions exclaim: “Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman…and he shall be unto thee a restorer of life…” (4:14,15). The word “kinsman” is translated from the Hebrew word goel which means to redeem and implies to be next of kin. Under the Law of Moses, it was the duty of the nearest relative to redeem (goel) land that was an individual’s inheritance, if the individual could not do so himself (Lev. 25:25-28). The kinsman must redeem (goel) one who was sold into slavery (Lev. 25:47-40).

The child born to Ruth and Boaz was Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David (4:17). David’s seed is the Christ (Matt. 1:1,5; Rom. 1:3). Christ is our elder brother (Heb. 2:11; Rom. 8:29; John 20:17). He came to redeem His people (Luke 1:68) from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13) and from all iniquity (Tit. 2:14) through His own precious blood (Rev. 5:9) that we might receive the adoption of sons (Gal. 4:5). He is the Angel which redeemed Jacob from all evil (Gen. 48:6). He is the Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel (Is. 54:5). He is the Redeemer that turns ungodliness away from Jacob (Is. 59:20; Rom. 11:26). Job said long ago, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25). He is our Near Kinsman Redeemer.

Eric L. Padgett


Samuel’s life showed promise from even before he was born. He was born to two godly parents, Elkanah and Hannah (I Sam. 1:1,2). Elkanah was of the line Kohath, whose descendants were in charge of bearing the holy furniture and utensils of the tabernacle (Num. 4:15). Both Elkanah and Hannah were faithful in their yearly worship at the tabernacle at Shiloh (I Sam. 1:3). That his mother Hannah fiercely believed in God is evidenced by her prayer to Him for a son (I Sam. 1:10,11). Her faith is further demonstrated by her acceptance of what Eli the Judge told her concerning God blessing her with a son (I Sam. 1:18). It is once more demonstrated by her keeping her vows to dedicate her son to God after he was born (I Sam. 1:11, 22). Even the name “Samuel,” which means “asked of God,” demonstrates her faith in God (I Sam. 1:20). Being born into a God-fearing family is a blessing.

Though loved by his mother and father, Samuel grew up not at their home in Ramah (I Sam. 1:19), but lived at Shiloh and studied at the feet of Eli where he ministered unto the Lord, girded with a linen ephod, even though he was but a child (I Sam. 2:11,18). His character and life is contrasted to that of Eli’s sons, who are described as “sons of belial,” who knew not the Lord (I Sam. 2:12). Samuel had a winning personality, for he grew in favor with both God and man (I Sam. 2:26). Eventually, all Israel came to understand that the Lord was with him, letting none of his words fall to the ground, or not come to pass, and “knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord” (I Sam. 3:19).

The times in which Samuel grew up were troubled times, ones in which many people were not faithful to the Lord. Men abhorred the offering of the Lord (I Sam. 2:26). Women were committing immorality with the priests (I Sam. 2:22) and the priests were stealing from and committing violence against those who came to worship (I Sam. 2:13-16). God spoke to no one perhaps because there were so few of that age worthy to receive a revelation from God (I Sam. 3:1). However, in these days when the word of God was precious God chose to speak to Samuel, even while a young child, instead of the aged but compromised Eli (I Sam. 3:2–8). Samuel, having never experienced a revelation before, did not understand at first that God was calling him (I Sam. 3:4,5,7).

When Samuel had ran to Eli three times to see what he wanted, for he thought it was Eli that was calling him, not Jehovah, Eli instructed him to listen to God (I Sam. 3:8,9). This is good advice for all of us, advice Eli, himself, should have taken with regard to his sons. The Lord chose to deliver this powerful warning to Eli through this young man Samuel. Another aspect of Samuel’s character reveals itself when Samuel is reluctant to inform Eli of God’s judgements against him until he is commanded to do so by Eli. He feared to show Eli the vision, perhaps out of concern for Eli (I Sam. 3:17). But when he was pressed by Eli, Samuel told him everything and held nothing back (I Sam. 3:18). He was faithful in revealing the word of God. It is now Samuel’s word that is heard by Israel as Eli dies at the news that the ark of the covenant is taken (I Sam. 4:1,15-18).

Samuel’s first test as a leader came when he rallied Israel to repent from their worshiping of false idols and to turn to God and serve only Him. It was only then that the Lord could deliver them from the yoke of the Philistines (I Sam. 7:3). Israel hearkened unto Samuel and put away their idols of baalim and astaroth and served the Lord only (I Sam. 7:4). It was then that Samuel cried unto the Lord and the Lord heard him (I Sam. 7:9). After God miraculously stops the advance of the Philistines, the Israelites pursue after and defeat them and Samuel raises a memorial stone, Ebenezer, or, stone of help (I Sam. 7:12). In our own worship we often sing of this Stone of Help.

Just as it was in Eli’s life, the great flaw in Samuel’s life was his sons. We learn from Samuel, himself, for he is the author of this book, that his sons did not walk in his ways (I Sam. 8:5). They were hungry for dishonest gain and were willing to pervert judgement in order to get their money (I Sam. 8:3). The goal in obtaining money this way is usually to fund some kind of profligate living. We are not told how it came to be that his sons were sinful, but, while every child is ultimately responsible for his own conduct, the path upon which he travels is determined by his upbringing in the home (Prov. 22:6). Eli did not restrain his sons when they made themselves vile (I Sam. 3:13). Perhaps Samuel was too busy to make the right choices regarding his son’s training.

Samuel is reckoned as the last of the judges (I Sam. 7:15,16). It is during this time that the children of Israel asked for a king. Because Samuel’s sons were wicked and Samuel was growing older, the children of Israel requested a king to rule over them so that they could be like the nations round about them (I Sam. 8:6). Samuel didn’t like it but the Lord told him that they were not rejecting him but were rejecting God (I Sam. 8:7). Samuel anointed the first king, Saul, who turned out to be just what Samuel had warned them against. It was also Samuel who told Saul that God rejected him from being king because he had rejected the word of the Lord (I Sam. 15:23). Finally, Samuel anointed the second king of Israel, king David (I Sam. 16:12,13).

While Samuel was last of the judges, he was first of the prophets (Acts 13:20; 3:24). While Moses was a prophet, and even Enoch had prophesied before him (Jude 14), and others are declared to be prophets, there was no regular succession of prophets until Samuel. We have seen that when Samuel came on the scene there was no open vision (I Sam. 4:1). During his days, however, there sprang up schools of prophets (e.g., I Sam 10:5; I Sam. 19:19-24). The Jews referred to Samuel as the “chief of the prophets.” In scripture, he is sometimes placed beside Moses (Ps. 99:6; Jer. 15:1). It is in his books that we find the prophecy that God would build a house for David and a throne (II Sam. 7:12ff – though these sections were probably added later by Nathan and God). Luke records that it is Christ who was the fulfillment of these prophecies (Acts 3:24).

Eric L. Padgett


The name Eli means “lofty” or “ascension,” and could possibly be a shortened form of Eliel, meaning “God is high” (Hastings). He was a descendant of Ithamar, the fourth son of Aaron, one of the two sons of Aaron which ministered in the priest’s office after Nadab and Abihu were struck dead when they offered a strange fire before the Lord (Lev. 10:1,2; Num. 3:4). Eli is distinguished as the first of the priests in Israel’s history to also function as a judge (I Sam. 1:9; 4:18). As a judge, he ruled for forty years, following Samson. There is not much information given regarding Eli and Eli is always mentioned, not for his own sake but, as his life is intertwined with others.

The time in which Eli served as judge, as recorded by Samuel, was marked by an absence of open revelation (II Sam. 3:1). We can assume from that fact that Eli eventually perceived that the Lord was talking to Samuel, that he had previously experienced such revelations on occasion himself, but not frequently (I Sam. 3:8). There were still a few prophets in Israel. Deborah had been a prophetess (Judges 4:4). A man of God also came to speak to Eli regarding the future of his house (I Sam. 2:27). This period was also marked by continued fighting with the Philistines (I Sam. 4:1) and it was also a time when men began to abhor the worship of God, precipitated in some measure by Eli’s wicked sons (I Sam. 2:17).

The first time we meet Eli is when he encounters Hannah (I Sam. 1). The account is more about Hannah than Eli but there are lessons to be learned from his actions. Hannah is the wife of Elkanah, who is also married to Penninah (I Sam. 1:2). Hannah is barren and Penninah, who had born children to Elkanah, would not let her forget it (I Sam. 1:6). When Hannah, weeping and sobbing, pours out her heart to God in prayer for a son, Eli notices her, that “her lips moved, but her voice was not heard” (I Sam. 1:13). From this Eli assumed she was drunk.

Does it tell us anything about Eli that he would assume Hannah was drunk from just this information? Not only did he assume Hannah was drunk, but also condemned her for it without a fair hearing? It is very possible, perhaps even likely, that, there were many in that society who were given to such vices as he imagined her to be practicing and his condemnation of this would have been just. But Eli seems here to quickly jump to the conclusion that Hannah must needs be like all others in that society. His quick and unmitigated condemnation of sin, was commendable. But Eli was a judge of Israel and a priest of the Lord, both positions requiring patience and understanding, which Eli failed to show.

On the other hand, when Eli learned from Hannah the truth about the situation, he quickly blessed her and prayed God that He would grant her petition. When Hannah’s petition was granted of the Lord, and she bore a son, she brought the child, as she promised, to Eli, with whom he stayed for the remainder of Eli’s life (I Sam. 1:15,28). The child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. He was educated by Eli and trained by him to serve the Lord. The contrast between how Samuel was trained by Eli and how Eli reared his sons is quite stark. Samuel grew up to be a great prophet and judge of Israel while Eli’s sons were corrupt. This contrast is thrice pointed out, once before and twice after the sins of Eli’s sons are described (I Sam. 2:11,18,26).

The great tragedy of Eli’s life is the wickedness of his sons (I Sam. 2:12). They took portions of the offerings that did not belong to them, they threatened violence if their demands were not met and they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the Lord (I Sam. 2:13-16,22). Their father, Eli, condemned these wicked practices and warned them against sinning so against the Lord, but they would not listen (I Sam. 2:24,25). Certainly these two sons were guilty of great crimes against the people, against Eli, against the tabernacle and most of all against God.

Eli’s warnings notwithstanding, the Lord placed the blame on him because he apparently honored his sons above the Lord (I Sam. 2:29). Eli was the High Priest and was responsible for the conduct of all the priests, especially his own sons. The fact remains that Eli did not stop his sons from these practices. The Text says that Eli was guilty of “kicking” at the Lord’s sacrifices because he did not stop his sons. He was guilty by his association with them in these things and lack of action against them. Indeed, he may have even benefited from their actions. The Text again says you “make yourselves fat,” plural, which includes Eli. Was Eli receiving a kickback from his son’s actions? It pains one to think that Eli might have had such a flaw hidden in his heart.

The fierceness of the judgment God placed on Eli for his crime (of not restraining his sons) is indicative of the seriousness of the crime of which Eli had been guilty. The judgment affected the future of his line for all his descendants would die before they were very old (I Sam. 2:33). This especially included his two sons who were both going to die in the same day (I Sam. 2:34). This prophecy was fulfilled when, later, the Philistines would take the ark and kill both Hophni and Phinehas (I Sam. 4:11). Phinehas’s son, Ahitub, could not have been priest very long for his son Ahimelech was priest during the days of Saul.  Ahimelech was slaughtered by king Saul (I Sam. 22:16-19).  His son Abiathar was removed from the priesthood by Solomon (I Kings 2:27).

What a tragic ending to a man, a life, and a family.

Eric L. Padgett


The time in which Deborah lived was notable for its lack of heroes. Apparently, there were no men qualified to lead. If there had been, it would have been likely that they would have been used by God to lead and judge the children of Israel. But since there was no one else, God used a woman named Deborah. That is not to diminish Deborah in any way. It is not to say that she was not a great leader, it is not that she did not shine as a virtuous woman, it is not to say that she was not wise enough to judge God’s people, for she was all these things. But God had set man into that leadership role and only in remarkable circumstances would a woman be required to fill it.

The times were desperate. After the death of Ehud, Israel was spiritually weakened, engaging once again in the numerous sins which haunted Israel nearly all its existence (Judges 4:1), and for this cause God sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan (Judges 4:2). It is during troubled times like these that men turn to the Lord, and this time it was no different. The children of Israel, after twenty years of Canaanite oppression, cried unto the Lord in their distress and the Lord answered their prayer with the leadership of Deborah.

The name Deborah means “bee.” It was a rare name for only one other woman in the Bible wore it, Rebekah’s nurse (Gen. 35:8). We are told that Deborah was the wife of one Lapidoth, about whom we know nothing more (Judges 4:4). Some have rendered this “woman of splendors.” Others have suggested that this means “woman of Lapidoth,” signifying her place of birth. But if it is correctly translated as “wife,” then she was a married woman, possibly even the mother of children, though the role of mother mentioned here probably had more to do with her role as a leader in Israel (cf. 5:7). Thus, she had many roles in her busy life and was capable of balancing them all, as women have done all down through time.

As a judge, she was renowned, for the children of Israel came up to her for judgment (Judges 4:5). Earlier, in the days of Moses, when issues arose among the people, they would bring their concerns to him and he would settle the matter (Ex. 18:13). The same was true in the days of Samuel, who would act as a circuit judge and go between Ramah, Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpeh (I Sam. 7:16,17). Later, when the number of cases increased, Moses added other judges to help, but all hard cases were brought to him (Ex. 18:14-26). The same was true with Samuel, as he grew older and the cases became too much of a burden, he made his sons judges (I Sam. 8:1). But Deborah apparently handled all these cases by herself.

She was also called a prophetess (Judges 4:4). The term “prophet” was applied to no other judge, though naturally these judges were in some fashion guided by the Lord (Heb. 11:32). There were other women throughout Biblical history who were chosen by God to be prophetesses. First, there was Miriam, the sister Moses (Ex. 15:20). After Deborah we find a Huldah during the time of king Josiah (II Sam. 22:14-20). When the book of the law was found, they went to Huldah instead of Jeremiah, though he was available (cf. Jer. 1:2,3). A prophetess named Anna lived during the period of the birth of Christ and spoke of the redemption that Christ would bring (Luke 2:36-38). Finally, the four virgin daughters of Philip, the evangelist, are referred to as those which could prophesy (Acts 21:8-10).

While Deborah was the judge of Israel, she also recognized the need for a military man to execute God’s plan of defeating Israel’s enemies. Whether it was God’s plan to chose Barak or whether this detail was left up to Deborah we cannot say, but he must have had some background in the art of war. He was able to gather ten thousand men out of Naphtali and Zebulon and march against Sisera. This was a command of God (Judges 4:6). While Barak had the skill, Deborah held the moral and spiritual influence to give Israel the confidence to act. Barak would not go up without Deborah by his side (Judges 4:8).

Curiously, in the Hebrews Hall of Faith, Paul mentions Barak but does not mention Deborah (Heb. 11:32). But it was Deborah who surely exhibited the greater faith in following the commands of God. It was she who motivated him to act. It was she who had faith to go. It was she who spoke the commands of God. It was she who judged Israel. It was she who was doing what Barak and others ought to have been doing all along. And while Barak had a major role in the defeat of Jabin, it was two women who were to truly instrumental (Judges 4:9). First, until Deborah, the villages ceased, the highways were empty, and there was no spear among forty thousand in Israel. She brought the country back to God and encouraged the defeat of Jabin. Second, it was Jael who delivered the final, fatal blow to Jabin (Judges 4:21).

Deborah is a great example to women and men of all ages. She was a faithful wife to Lapidoth. She cared for the people of Israel as her own children, and perhaps for her own children, as well. She judged Israel and guided them in difficult times. She motivated Barak to obey God’s commands to take back the country from foreign invaders. May God give us more leaders with the character and charisma of Deborah!

Eric L. Padgett


More often than not, when an individual follows in the steps of some great person, whatever the situation may be, failure, or at least disappointment, is to be expected in varying degrees as critics compare the latter to the former. This was definitely not the case with Joshua following Moses as the leader of God’s people. While Moses remained unparalleled as a leader, a prophet and lawgiver (Deut. 34:10-12), Joshua came to be trusted as a great leader of God’ people in his own right (Josh. 1:16-18).

When we first meet Joshua (Ex. 17:8), he is apparently already a leader of some note. When Israel met their first foreign opposition coming out of Egypt in the Amalekites, Moses turned to Joshua to lead an army to defeat them. From the fact that out of all the men who came out of Egypt Moses chose Joshua to lead a group of men to fight, he must have already won a reputation as a warrior. The judgment as to whom Joshua would lead, was left up to his impeccable discretion (“choose out men”), implying that all things having to do with battle, could be safely entrusted to the capable hands of Joshua.

Joshua had been born a slave in Egypt and was relatively young (cf. Ex. 33:11), probably between forty and forty-five at the time of the Exodus. What circumstances lead to his being chosen as a leader are not revealed (just as Moses’ exploits are not revealed – Acts 7:22), but God seems to have had His eye on him early, for Moses was instructed to “rehearse” these things in the ears of Joshua and write them in a book for a memorial (Ex. 17:13). God would later charge Joshua to meditate in the things written in the book (Josh. 1:8). The great testimony to Joshua’s character and leadership is that during his days, and the days of those who lived with Joshua, the children of Israel served the Lord (Josh. 24:31).

Moses described Joshua as his “minister” or “attendent” or “servant” (Ex. 24:13; Num. 11:28). It was Joshua who went up with Moses into the Mount of God while Aaron and Hur stayed back to deal with the issues the people raised (Ex. 24:13, 14). It was Joshua who remained at the Tabernacle, presumably to gaurd it from desecration by sinful hands (Ex. 33:11). It was Joshua who, when Moses learned that he would not enter into the promised land, was appointed by God as Moses’ successor (Num. 27:15-23). It was Joshua who lead the children of Israel across the Jordan and into the promised land (Deut. 1:38; Josh. 3). It was Joshua who led the children of Israel in the taking of the promised land (Josh. 1:1-9).

When the time came to spy out the land, Joshua and Caleb were the only two who brought back a positive, good report (Num. 14:6-10). They said “let us go up at once and posess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30). All the rest cried in despair that the land “eateth up the inhabitants” and is posessed by giants and people that are stonger than they (Num. 14:31-33). While the report of the other ten fomented doubt and insurrection, Joshua’s report, along with that of Caleb, exhibted trust, courage and faith in God. But Joshua’s report was also rooted in a military background and was not just a fanatic’s rave.

The one word that is often associated with Joshua is the word “courage.” He is exhorted to be strong and of “good courage” (e.g. Josh. 1:6,7,9). Perhaps the constant use of this term with Joshua suggests that he had unspoken doubts and fears. No good leader leads with abandon. With the sensible, there are always reasonable fears. But courage allows the righteous to be bold as a lion (Prov. 28:1). Paul encouraged us to stand fast in the faith, quit like men, be strong (I Cor. 16:13). God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind (I Tim. 1:7). Let us pray that we have the courage of Joshua.

The Bible tells us that the man we know as Joshua was originally named Oshea (Deut. 32:44). At some point, Moses changed his name to Jehoshua, either when he was sent to spy out the land of Canaan (Num. 13:16) or, perhaps, when he won his first victory over Amalek (Ex. 17:8-16). Oshea means “help” or “salvation.” But “Jehoshua” means the same thing with God’s name attached to the beginning, meaning “Jehovah saves.” Another form of the name is “Jeshua” (Num. 8:17). In the New Testament, “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent to this Hebrew name. The name “Jesus” means “Saviour” “because He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Just as Joshua brought the children of Israel into the promised land, our Lord Jesus brings us into the promised land of Heaven. In Hebrews chapter four, when Paul wrote about the rest that the Lord had promised to His people, the translators of the King James Version correctly translate this “Jesus” (Heb. 4:8). It was Jesus, the Angel of His Presence, Who led the children of Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the promised land (Ex. 32:20-23, 14:19; 32:34, 33:2, 14; Num. 20:16; Josh. 6:2; Is. 63:9; I Cor. 10:4,9) and it is Jesus which will lead us into Heaven (John 14:1-6).

Eric L. Padgett


Jacob formed the third part of the well-known patriarchal triad of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cf. Matt. 22:32). The Lord Himself was the first to use this description to Moses when He described Himself as their God (Ex. 3:6). Despite the fact that very early on Jacob’s life was not always exemplary, God chose him to bear twelve sons, which would become twelve tribes, which would become strangers in a land not theirs but would come out a great nation, just as God had promised Abraham (Gen. 15:13,14).

Jacob was born in answer to the prayers which Isaac offered on behalf of his wife, Rebekah (Gen. 25:21). Like Sarah, she had been barren. But while Sarah bore a child through God’s miraculous intervention, such was not necessarily so in Rebekah’s case. But God’s providence was at work. Even before his birth, God had chosen Jacob for a purpose (Gen. 25:23; Rom. 9:11-16). Paul showed how this demonstrated God’s sovereign will (Rom. 9:11-24).

As noted above, Jacob’s early life was less than exemplary. First, he deceived his brother into giving him his birthright (Gen. 25:29-34). A birthright was the right of the firstborn son to receive special blessings, including a double portion of the personal inheritance (Deut. 21:15-17). Later, he deceived his father into giving him the blessing that was to be Esau’s (Gen. 27:1-40). Jacob’s name meant “the supplanter” and he lived up to his name (Gen. 27:36). Instead of trusting the Lord and asking Him for guidance, he always acted on his own.

The deception in these instances was bad enough, but Jacob and Rebekah knew of the promises of God. God had fulfilled His promise that through Isaac the seed and blessings would come. Nevertheless, just as Sarah had tried before her, Rebekah was trying to force God’s hand into bringing about the advancement of her son on her own terms. We cannot force God’s hand. Even our Lord prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). One has only to look at the religious world to see the attempts by man, over and over again, to circumvent God’s will with their own.

Every sin has its consequence (Rom. 6:23). Sometimes the consequences are immediate. Jacob’s deception naturally resulted in Esau’s intense anger. This kind of anger–the kind of anger that wants to kill–reaches back to the immediate, post-garden days of the Adam and Eve family (Gen. 4:1-8). However, such anger should not be nursed or fed (Eph. 4:26). Anger, even the small kind, resteth in the bosom of fools (Ecc. 7:9). Although Esau had sworn to kill Jacob, in the end his anger was abated because of his own prosperity and he reconciled with his brother. What a contrast with Cain and Abel!

You can see the transformation in Jacob’s life. Early on Jacob is not recorded as speaking to God or even acknowledging Him. Somewhere along the way to Haran, as he fled Esau, God appears to Jacob above a ladder to heaven and gives Jacob the same promise He had given to Abraham. Jacob there vows that if God bless him, then God shall be his God (Gen. 28). When Jacob is ready to leave Laban, he finally acknowledges that God had been with him (Gen. 31:5,42).

Now, before this reunion and reconciliation with Esau, Jacob dwelt in fear of meeting his once angry brother(Gen. 32:11). Not only does he pray to God, which is something he was not said to have done heretofore, but he acknowledges that he was unworthy “of the least of Thy mercies,” and admitted his fear (Gen. 32:9-11). To prepare him for this meeting, and for the rest of his life, the Lord causes Jacob to wrestle “a man,” which was, presumably, the Lord. (Jacob says that he has seen God “face to face” (Gen. 32:30) and the Angel says that Jacob had power with men and with God (v. 28)). With that new courage, Jacob faced his brother and the two were reconciled.

The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac had truly become the God of Jacob! The Lord changed the name of Jacob, the supplanter, to Israel, the prince of God (Gen. 32:28). At God’s command, Jacob goes back to Bethel and builds an altar to the Lord and has his people put away their gods (Gen. 35:1-15). Through God’s providence, he ultimately ends up in Egypt so that his seed would be saved from famine and become a mighty nation that comes out of Egypt (Ex. 12:35,36; Ps. 105:37). Finally, in faith, he blesses his sons and both the sons of Joseph (Heb. 11:21).

Eric L. Padgett


Notwithstanding their closeness to the Creation and their proximity to the Creator, there is nothing we read in the Sacred Account of Adam and Eve and their sons that suggest to us anything but that they were susceptible to the same temptations we ourselves now face daily (I John 2:15-17). We have seen the Fall of Adam and Eve from their fellowship with Jehovah. Now we read of the tragic incidents surrounding their children, Cain and Abel. This first family tells us much about us.

Cain was firstborn. His interests lay in the field. His brother Abel was a keeper of sheep. Both men brought an offering to the Lord, but only Abel’s was accepted. Multiple theories have been put forward as to why God rejected Cain’s offering and most of the time it centers on Cain’s attitude. And while Cain’s attitude certainly left a lot to be desired, this most certainly was not the sole reason, or even the main reason, the Lord rejected his offering.

No less than Jesus tells us that Abel was righteous (Matt. 23:35). Righteousness comes from keeping the commandments of God, for “all Thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172). Paul tells us that now, today, it is in the gospel that the righteousness of God is revealed (Rom. 1:17). If Abel was righteous, then it was because he kept the commandments of the Lord. Indeed, the Lord tells Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted” (Gen. 4:7). Clearly, the Bible reveals that Cain’s transgression was that he was not righteous, he did not do well, he did not obey.

Additionally, Paul declares that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Paul also declares that Abel presented his offering by faith (Heb. 11:4). Now, if faith comes by the word of God, and Abel presented his offering by faith, then Abel presented his offering according to the word of God. That is, he did well in obeying God’s commands.

This also explains why Cain was condemned. It was not an arbitrary, gratuitous dislike of Cain or his offering that led to God’s disapprobation, but a legal condemnation based on Cain’s disobedience of God’s revealed law. When has it ever been otherwise? Anyone today who similarly alters God’s commands, or who adds to or takes therefrom, shall likewise partake of God’s judgments (Rev. 22:18,19). The wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6).

If there are no other lessons to be taken from this historical account, this would be quite enough, for it is vitally important. It is a lesson that is taught over and over again throughout scripture. But Cain’s transgression of God’s commands led to other sins, as well. The man who cares not if he obeys God’s commands in worship, will care little about God’s commands in general. Cain is a case in point.

When the Lord condemned Cain for his disobedience in worship, instead of being contrite and humble, he became jealous, hateful and angry. God’s instruction to Cain was not to go seek to manage his anger, but to do well! God’s remedy for anger is to be obedient to Him! The way to acceptance with God is not through self-will, but humble obedience. Nevertheless, he took out his hatred on his righteous brother Abel. How very sad it is that the first account that we have of murder is meted out by a brother upon a brother.

Abel was the first martyr. He suffered for himself because he did well and the voice of his blood cried out from the ground as a witness (Gen. 4:10). The blood of Abel and of all the righteous prophets was required of that people which persecuted and killed them and then crucified the Saviour (Matt. 23:34-38). Jesus suffered for all because He did well. Today, the blood of Jesus speaks of better things than that of Abel’s (Heb. 12:24; I Pet. 1:18-20).
Eric L. Padgett